From 16 Wing Borden
In September 2016, senior staff of the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE), located at 16 Wing Borden, Ontario, visited the training facility at Royal Air Force Cosford in Shropshire, United Kingdom. During their stay, they observed a collaboration room: a place where students gather to study collectively and assist one another.
Inspired by this concept, senior staff set forth the idea to incorporate collaboration rooms as a learning tool for students at CFSATE in hopes that they would be a symbol of teamwork and perseverance—essential qualities fostered in aircraft technicians.
The project came to fruition on June 11, 2018, when the commander of 2 Canadian Air Division (2 CAD), Brigadier-General David Cochrane, accompanied by the Chief Warrant Officer Pierre Jetté, 2 CAD’s chief warrant officer (CWO), opened the Russell Bragg Collaboration Room at CFSATE.
Colonel Andrew Fleming, 16 Wing’s commander, and CWO Necole Belanger, 16 Wing’s CWO, along with Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Rhéaume, CFSATE’s commandant, and CWO Daniel Campbell, CFSATE’s CWO, were also present for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Major Greg Vardy, commander of CFSATE’s Lancaster Squadron, assembled the project team in February 2017: Mr. Tony Gale, Mr. Rob Northey and Corporal James Taylor. They approached the student leadership council to actively involve CFSATE’s students in the vision for this initiative. Student council education representatives, Aviator Christopher Underwood (from 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario) and Aviator Emery Clifford (from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia) were instrumental in developing goals for a room where students could come together with ideas for projects and find a quiet place to meet for study.
In September 2017, the project team and student council met to choose a name for the collaboration room. After extensive research by the students and the presentation of a proposal to the council, students voted to name the room the Russel Bragg Collaboration Room.
Russell Mackie Bragg, born near Calgary, Alberta, was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. As an aero-engine mechanic on the Hurricane aircraft, he served with distinction in 1940 during the Battle of Britain. His dedication and perseverance contributed greatly to ensuring serviceable aircraft were available to meet the daily German Luftwaffe raids.
Corporal Bragg, later commissioned as an officer, was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions during the Battle of Britain. His recommendation reads, in part: “he was always in the forefront directing others and setting an example for all. It has been due to his unrelenting efforts that his present unit was transferred from older to newer aircraft in record time. He has been responsible for the fine serviceability record of the unit [No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron and has rendered outstanding services throughout.” He continued to serve with the RCAF until injured in a motor vehicle accident in September 1945.
The aircraft structures team of Master Corporal Brandon Wilkie, Master Corporal Kevin Roy and Mr. Denis Antille designed the room’s door in the shape of an aircraft panel. A laser-etched image of Russell Bragg in front of a damaged Hurricane aircraft highlights the entry. With the assistance of Corporal Taylor and Aviator Clifford, the Technician’s Creed was published in both English and French and is displayed in the room alongside “Rusty” Bragg’s biography.
“This room is in line with the three fundamental vectors we enforce here at CFSATE: professionalism, teamwork and excellence,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Rhéaume. “Professionalism, because it is in support of professional qualities that students are accountable, teamwork, because this room is focused on sharing and group thinking and, finally excellence, because this is what this institution is all about, providing the student with the resources and environment to stimulate and optimize their learning”.
Brigadier-General Cochrane said he was impressed with the drive and initiative of the student council and further reinforced to student council members that they are the RCAF’s future leaders.
Initiatives for this room continue to develop; there are plans for adding additional resources such as networked computer stations and a smartboard to aid in the success of students and their aircraft maintenance education at CFSATE.